For my first official combo, we’re keeping it close to home with one of my favorite standbys: Bacon Ridge Natural Area and Chesepiooc Real Ale Brewery. This is a really nice hike for people of all levels and Chesepiooc has a wide range of beer so there’s always something for everyone.
Bacon Ridge Natural Area
Length: 6.0 miles (lots of opportunities to make it shorter or longer)
Elevation Gain: 528ft
Time: 2.5 hours (again, could be longer or shorter)
Trail use: Hiking, biking, leashed pets allowed
Parking: No entry fee. Small lot but parking is allowed along road
H&H rating: 4/5
Bacon Ridge is a pretty popular spot but don’t be alarmed if the parking lot is full! You are allowed to park along the road by the trailhead, just be careful crossing the street! This trail is very popular with the mountain bike community so stay alert on the trail. People are usually quite friendly and happy to share the trail but remember that bikes can go pretty fast downhill! Stay alert especially if you bring little hikers with you.
J and I decided to the long loop of Bacon Ridge but there are plenty of shorter trails or options to turn around. I would suggest following a trail map (I prefer the AllTrails app) since the trails are not blazed and it can be easy to get off track. The trail does have some elevation change but since it was made primarily for mountain biking, all hills are pretty gradual and there are no steps or stream crossing. Along the route there are several benches for taking a rest or to enjoy nature. What this trails lacks in overlooks, it makes up for in biodiversity. My partner J has been learning a lot about trees and we spent a lot of time identifying different species. Here is the Certified Good Tree of this hike:
Another point of interest along the way are the rusted cars only about 0.5 miles from the parking lot. Spilling over the hillside are rusted out abandoned cars that look to be from the 1950s. Really fascinating, if not a little bit creepy to me!
Over all Bacon Ridge is an excellent exercise hike that can be as long or as short as you want. There’s ample parking, no fee, a portapotty at the entrance and conveniently only 15 mins away from….
Chesepiooc Real Ale Brewery
Address: 2408 Crofton Blvd Crofton, MD 21114
Distance from Trail Head: 8.6 miles, ~15 mins
Food?: BYOF or Food Truck
H&H Rating: 5/5
Chesepiooc is easily one of my favorite breweries in Maryland. And it’s not just me! They were voted the #1 brewery by WTOP in 2020, which is well-deserved. Chesepiooc specializes in small batch ales so they’re able to have a lot on tap and it’s always so good. They also specialize in cask ales, which means that the beer is cask-conditioned, unfiltered and served at cellar temperature (usually 50-55F). Cask ales remind me of a cozy Scottish pub and if you haven’t had one before, you should check it out! Hmm I’m sensing a longer post about cask ale in my future! Chesepiooc doesn’t do flagship beers, so everything is completely unique and might even change week to week. So if you like something, better get a growler!
Chesepiooc is located off of Route 3 in Crofton and has both indoor and outdoor seating. They don’t have a kitchen so feel free to bring some snacks or grab sustenance from the food truck that’s usually there on weekends (side note: if the Tacos Friday food truck is there, you MUST get a tacos, they are stupid good). Also, no kitchen means it’s very dog friendly! The tap room is very roomy and they’ve got picnic tables out front for those who like the fresh air.
Some of our favorite Chesepiooc beers* are:
- Muscles from Brussels (Barrel-Aged) – Belgian Strong Ale 9.8%
- Here Comes the Sun – NEIPA – 6.8%
- Salt of the Earth – Porter – 5.7%
- Taco Friday Lager – American Lager – 5.8%
*Remember, it’s small batch beers so these might not be around when you visit. But I’m positive you’ll find something you like!
SUM UP: Bacon Ridge is a natural preserve with trails for all lengths and abilities. It’s popular with mountain bikers so stay alert! Nearby is Chesepiooc Real Ale Brewery which is a local favorite that makes unique small batch beer and often has a food truck.
H&H overall rating: 4/5